ON THE DOLE
You have finally done it! In your article about the National AAU track and field championships (A Doleful Day for Ryun, July 4) you have pushed a great thing too far. Do you expect Jack Nicklaus to shoot 64 every day? Do you expect Sandy Koufax to shut out every opponent? I think not. No, if they win they are heroes and have satisfied the fans. However, if Jim Ryun wins the mile by 10 yards against an excellent field but fails to break a world record, everyone is disappointed. Now even SI has taken this immature attitude. Jim Ryun is not a machine that you can set up at a faster speed for each race. He is an individual!
If you or the fans are disappointed in a 3:58.6 performance, let me remind you that the mile is no easier to run today than years ago when no one had ever broken the four-minute mark. Why don't you try running a mile some time if you think that time is so slow and disappointing? I'll bet a nickel that Mr. Brown can't run it in 4:58.6!
•SI reported, accurately, that it was Ryun himself who was disappointed. As for Writer Gwilym Brown, he ran in the 1965 and 1966 Boston Marathons, won neither, also was disappointed.—ED.
Jim Ryun's fans are "disappointed" with a subfour-minute mile, and Michel Jazy runs the third fastest 1,500 meters in history (the fastest ever in Europe or the United States), and is "a failure" as a national hero. Just how silly can track fans and sports-writers get?
GEORGE P. MEADE
July 17, 1966
Many thanks for your great story about the world's greatest runner. Jim Ryun represents Kansas, and it's good to see that someone else besides us at KU thinks he's fabulous. Many adults must be glad to see a young man who, though a teen-ager, has disciplined himself enough so that he can take his place among the truly great and dedicated athletes of the sports world.
Mr. Curry Kirkpatrick, who wrote the two articles on the Kentucky-Indiana All-Star basketball games (Togetherness Triumphs Twice, July 4) must have some connection with Indiana. Kentucky happened to win both games rather convincingly, but I notice both articles tell about the personal life of the team that lost. Is somebody prejudiced against winners?
RUSSELL E. MUELLER
The blame for the dismal performance of the Indiana All-Stars should be placed on their respective high school coaches, who taught them for four years to be selfish gunners, and not on Cleon Reynolds, whose own high school and college teams have been shining examples of good teamwork for many years. Even Kentucky's Joe Reibel would not have been able to handle them. Think of what fantastic individual efforts the fans of Indiana University, Purdue and Miami will be able to witness during the next four years. They will probably have to invest in individual scoreboards to maintain the emotional stability of the players.
I'm going into 12th grade, and I participate in all the local AAU track meets. I want to be a track star. I wonder if you'd mind writing an article about me.
•Wait a bit.—ED.
In your letters column of July 4 a Mr. Ed Mulford of Shelton, Conn. claims that "fast-pitch Softball is hardly more than a memory now."
Mr. Mulford's statement is hard to understand in light of the fact that the Amateur Softball Association of America, the governing body of the sport, registered over 20,000 teams (50% of which were fast-pitch) and 8,000 umpires in 1965. As a matter of fact, one of the brightest, most rapidly growing sports organizations in the world today is the International Softball Federation, which includes 26 countries. The ISF sponsored the first International World Tournament last October in Melbourne, Australia. The tournament was for women, with five countries participating, and it was fast-pitch. The first Men's International World Tournament will be held in Mexico City this October. Softball has been accepted on a demonstration basis for the Pan American Games, the Asian Games and the Central American Games. There is talk of Softball being in the Olympics in 1972. Where there is smoke there is fire. All the 26 countries of the ISF and all the international games play fast-pitch. This hardly sounds like a dying sport.
If, to quote Mulford, "interest in Softball is pretty well gone," how does one explain the 1964-65 home-attendance figure (211,000) of the Pekin Lettes, an Illinois women's team that is not even the national champion (incidentally, they play fast-pitch)? This figure is almost one-fifth the attendance of hardball's professional Kansas City Athletics for the same period. The fact is softball is enjoying the greatest popularity it has ever experienced.
DALE MITCHELL JR.
Amateur Softball Association of America
Mr. Mulford states that "fast-pitch really was the top sport of every kind in America." His statistics are dead wrong, the top sport of every kind in America (and the world) is football—not what you know as football, where hardly ever a foot touches the ball, but real football, known to you as soccer. America is a continent that comprises many countries.
J. L. LOPEZ
I have just finished reading the comments of a Mr. Mulford regarding the sad condition of fast-pitch softball. Here in the Midwest we have softball leagues and pitchers that are as good as if not better than those of 1954!
They have a big tournament every summer in Rock Island, Ill. and, believe me, those pitchers really throw that ball. For small-town fans there is a tournament in Blue Grass, Iowa during July where some of the best softball in the country is played.
So take heart, Mr. Mulford. Not all of us of the younger generation have turned to cars, girls, etc.
ROBERT A. FIEDLER II
As one who has fished in and fallen into beaver ponds from the Uinta Mountains in Utah to the primitive area along the Salmon River in Idaho, I found Bil Gilbert's article (Beavers Dam and Be Dammed, June 27) most interesting.
I had heard that beavers would not eat pine trees because the pine gum got stuck in their teeth, but I saw a pine tree cut down by a beaver on the South Fork of the Clearwater River, east of Grangeville, Idaho. Therefore I do not by any means question the capabilities of beavers, but I do question the intelligence of those who allowed the beavers to do what they did in Gilbert's story. It is very simple and very inexpensive to install a beaverproof spillway to limit the height of the water in any beaver pond. Don't keep tearing out the dam—especially if you like a small pond on the stream. Put a corrugated metal discharge pipe through it. Put a fence around the intake and there will be no chance of the beavers bothering the spillway. If one pipe isn't big enough, put in a second one. Beavers are smart—but man can be smarter.
PRESTON D. JOHNSON
Your "cute" story about Rock Hound State Park (SCORECARD, June 13) is a slap in the face to the more than 50,000 organized rock collectors who engage in this educational and useful hobby. It is not the amateur collector, or "rock hound," who takes specimens out of parks in truckloads, but the part-time dealer or wholesaler operating under the guise of a collector.
Rock collecting is a clean hobby that is made dirty only by a few avaricious people who, if they were hunters, would be classified as poachers. The aim of the thousands of clubs formed by true rock collectors is to preserve the natural wonders of the world. The American Federation of Mineral and Lapidary Societies has led this campaign.
F. KEREK SHECKTOR
Plymouth Meeting, Pa.
I enjoyed Janet Graham's article on hitchhiking (Rule of Thumb for the Open Road, June 6) and the subsequent letters, but I would like to add my own record to the average speed mark cited by Milton Mandross (19TH HOLE, June 20) of 36 mph for 1,200 miles. I have hitched about 43,000 miles in the U.S. and always bettered the bus time, with an average of 40 to 45 mph. I made one trip from San Francisco to Boston in 71 hours, which is 52 mph for the 3,700-mile distance, or better than the trains. All these averages are for total time on the road and the roadside.
However, it is my feeling that the days of fast hitching in the U.S. are numbered. The growth of interstate highways, with the elimination of stoplights and toll roads, makes it far more difficult to find a good place to stand where the cars are going slow.
E. J. ESSENE